Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

I personally didn't like Trouble With Chickens, the J. J. Tully series, but that was just personal bias against the genre of faux noir. The kids check the books out quite a bit and really like the blend of humor and mystery. So I was quite willing to be open-minded about this companion series (even though I personally think that two books doth not a series make and can't help wondering why the J. J. Tully series was dropped so soon).

Anyways, this is more truly a beginning chapter title at just a little under 100 pages, lots of black and white art, and bold, large text.

It introduces the four crazy chicks as the primary characters. They each have a different personality and a different role in their "detective agency." The twist is, of course, that the chicks are utter goofballs. Their first "case" involves a hysterical squirrel and an alien craft! Luckily, J. J. is still around to keep an eye on them.

Doreen Cronin is spot-on with her understanding of the audience for beginning chapter books. They love to be in on the joke and the simple mystery with its humorous aspects will allow them to follow the plot even while they're still honing their reading and comprehension skills. Cornell's black and white illustrations are a fun complement and break up the text so it doesn't feel too daunting to new chapter book readers.

Verdict: Whether or not you personally like this type of slapstick humor, it's going to be a big hit with the majority of beginning chapter book readers and the clever but not too subtle jokes and simple writing style are perfect for this reading level. Highly recommend.

ISBN: 9781481405720; Published April 2014 by Simon and Schuster; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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